Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Farewell Viking Forseti, Hello Bordeaux and the Marche’ des Capucins

When we reach our cabin, after the farewell dinner with our friends, there is a card waiting for us, beautifully handwritten, to tell us that our taxi will be waiting for us at 0930, and Viking wishes us a safe trip. This kind of attention to detail makes for great customer relations.

Our friends are fretting; there is a nation-wide train strike which may – or may not – start tomorrow, as they are heading for the train station en route to Paris. It causes great consternation. We tell them that we are picking up our rental car at the same station, the Gare Sainte Jean, and that if there really is a train strike, to quickly go pick up a rental car (before everyone else tries to do the same) and drive to Paris. It’s not a long drive.

We have a leisurely breakfast and our luggage is picked up from outside our door. At 0920, we head outside, and we can see a car waiting. In Tunis, in Doha, we used to call these limo’s, they are a higher class of taxi. Often someone’s private car (then, in the Middle East, things have changed somewhat since then) you were given a phone number by a friend, and you only shared that number with people you know who would appreciate and not abuse the service. It was a beautiful, well kept car, no markings to indicate it was for hire. He took us directly to the hotel, which was not that easy to find. We thanked him, and set up a pick up for the next day, which was a Sunday.

We had found a hotel, The Grand Hotel Francais which is also a Best Western. It is beautifully located near the Grand Theatre and just up the street from Saint Andre’s. I can’t figure out how to make a mark on the map, but up in the upper right corner, just where the red line B (tram) makes a turn, you see Rue de Temple, and the Hotel is on that street. The location is very quiet, but it is walking distance to everything!

 

We loved this hotel. First, we loved the location. Second, even at 0930 in the morning, they had our room ready for us. We had been prepared to drop our bags in the hotel baggage room until official check-in time, but what joy it was to be able to go to the room directly.

 

While I am not a big fan of motel-modern, I am a fan of this room. I like space. The ceilings are very high. While the walls are plain, the room has a spacious feel.

The bathroom is also spacious, and very modern. It felt roomy, especially after the ship. Lots of towels, and big thick cotton bathrobes. The controls on the shower were sort of space-ship modern, you move this knob this way to control volume, and that ring that way to control desired heat, and how do you raise the shower-head and make it stay exactly where you want it? But it wasn’t rocket science, and once I figured it out I explained it to my husband. We ran into this configuration several times.

What contributes to the feeling of spaciousness are the floor to ceiling French doors out onto a balcony. I am a big fan of balconies. Below is the view to the right, which you will see again as the marathon runners run by later in the day/night.

Looking down this street, you can almost see Saint Andrews cathedral, the “temple” to which the rue runs.

We didn’t stay long, just long enough to leave our luggage and get what we needed for a busy day trying to do everything we wanted to do in Bordeaux. (We failed. Oh well, guess we’ll just have to go back again 🙂  )

I had a priority. I love markets. I wanted to see the Marche’ aux Capuchins. We have an all-city pass that lets us on all the trams and busses, and lets us into several museums, so we have that joyous feeling of knowing we can do anything!

We take the B line, heading South, and get off at the Place de la Victoire, where there is a huge beautiful arch. And look at the skies! It is a beautiful, warm day; there is a lot of excitement in the air because tonight is the famous Bordeaux marathon, a crazy night where the streets of the city close down and the runners get to race on the major roads of the city.

I love public art, don’t you? Look at this big bronze turtle, and her little one, right in the middle of the city of Bordeaux. I love it that she has food in her mouth, after all, this is Bordeaux. Look at the leathery texture, captured in bronze, of her skin. I always think of turtles as symbols of long life.

The walk looks short on the map, but the blocks have a longer feel. It is a little north African, lots of kebab places, wonderful exotic smells. We feel very much at home. We come to the entrance of the famous market.

This is one of the reasons we are here. We hunger for the pate’s of fall, the Forestiere, and other local specialities. This is heaven, even just to look, it is abundant!

Umm, below, there are often things we wouldn’t even think of as food. Pigs ears? Hoofs?


 

 

 

 

 

When we lived in Tunis, we shopped at the Marche’ Lafayette where families would sell their varieties of pasta like this. It was the tastiest pasta in the world, and so fresh it spoils you for the kind you buy in stores. We have no stove, no pots, no pans and it is all I can do not to buy some just because I can, because these are so tempting, so beautiful.

Quiches-by-the-slice

Fabulous old grains breads

In the center of this photo below are fish, translucent, almost transparent fish that look like a pile of cellophane in this photo, but are distinct fish. I’ve never seen them before, and wonder how they cook up? No, I don’t ask because these merchants are interested in making a sale, and I am rally just a voyeur.

Ahhh! These are famous. We are warned to get to the market early to try these, that they bring so many, and when they are gone, they are gone. Clouds of love, and oh, my, WOW.

A thin sweet crust, a sweet sort of cream meringue, truly a fabulous cloud 🙂

Plates of oysters, fresh from the sea, ready to eat!

The prices of oysters are controlled by the French government. Every place, we are told in Arcachon, charges about the same.

 

You pick out a variety of little tapas sandwiches and pay by the color of the stick.

 

 

 

 

Cucurbitacee are gourds; most of these appear to be pumpkin-like. This market was a heaven of squash and gourds.

 

 

Even as we leave the marche’ we see another sign for tonight’s Bordeaux Marathon Madness – the energy is everywhere!

 

 

 

December 18, 2019 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Cultural, Customer Service, Entertainment, Food, Hotels, Living Conditions, Marketing, Public Art, Quality of Life Issues, Travel, Tunisia | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bozeman Yellowstone Airport

How often does an airport rate a blog entry? From the moment we landed in Bozeman to begin our trip, I was itching to take photos and show you what a beautiful job they have done positioning the Bozeman airport as the entry to Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks.

First, the airport is structured to look like a high-end game lodge. They have high ceilings, a huge stone fireplace, several sculptures and pieces (probably reproductions, but hey) from the Museum of the Rockies. I LOVE this airport.

 

 

 

 

 

I love the bobcat jumping off the ledge of the fireplace 🙂

 

And a last view of the mountains, from the airport.

June 28, 2019 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Building, Bureaucracy, Character, Heritage, Marketing, Public Art, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Wake of the Vikings: TugBoat Dances to Welcome us to Quebec

 

It is a joyful morning. The air is soft, the sky is blue, and Quebec shines like a jewel in the harbor.

The sun is gleaming off a smaller white boat – a tug?

 

The tug starts shooting off water. This is interesting! What is he doing? Is the tug able to use seawater to form the chute of water? Is it also a fireboat?

 

The boat starts toward our boat, and one chute of the water is grazing the bow! Oh no! Is he going to spray all the cruise ship guests? Is this a security risk?

 

No! He veers away, just in time to keep from giving us a soaking, but bouncing port to starboard, starboard to port, dancing for us, dancing with us. One of the crew members waves seeing me shooting this segment. AdventureMan joins me, he waves back.

 

What a delightful and lovely way to start the day. It just keeps getting better!

He is having so much fun. We are having so much fun! The water sparkles off his joyful waterspouts!

 

He almost disappears in a spray of water. He goes around the back to welcome the other side of the ship.

It doesn’t take much to thrill our hearts. This joyful welcome does the trick.

As we dock, the World Cafe is full of people and their cameras; we are docking in the heart of the old city, and views present themselves for the taking. You couldn’t ask for a lovelier day in Quebec; the temperatures will be in the high 70’s F.

 

 

The tug boat harbor:

 

 

“Oh look, the local Vikings are coming,” I said to AdventureMan, and looking right at them, he asked “where?”

“That’s them, the local Viking crew, coming to help get people onto their tours and hand out water,” I pointed out.

“Oh, I thought you meant REAL Vikings,” he grumbled.

LocalVikingsArrive.jpg

Hmmm. When I attended the Bayeux Tapestry lecture, the speaker said that the Battle of Hastings in 1066 is considered the end of the Viking Era, meaning exploration, pillage, plunder and settlement. But really, the Battle of Hastings was Norman (Norseman) against Northman, Viking fighting Viking, and perhaps . . . perhaps . . . the Viking Era goes on, hidden under a thin veneer of civilization.

Don’t you like that idea?

We have a tour late into the afternoon, then final goodbyes, dinner, and making sure our bags are out in the hall and ready to go by ten tonight. The good part about a cruise is unpacking and not having to pack and unpack again. The bad part is that a reckoning always comes, and we are stuffing our suitcases, and throwing out old underwear to make room for the few souvenirs we picked up along the way. The Viking Sky leaves Quebec City tonight for Montreal, and from our landing we head to the airport, en route back to Pensacola. I don’t believe I will be able to post again until we are there, and perhaps not right away, as you know what it is like, the deluge of things that must be done, when you get home . . .

So for now, au revoir from Quebec.

September 22, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Marketing, Pensacola, Travel, Weather | , , , | Leave a comment

Wake of the Vikings: A Wonderful Welcome in Saguenay, Quebec

 

We awaken to a beautiful morning on the Saguenay river. As I am fixing my hair, there are dolphins – or porpoises (is there a difference?) playing just outside the open window, and whale spouts and tails from time to time. It is a glorious morning, and AdventureMan is feeling better, but not better enough to take the Zodiac ride in the park which we had scheduled.

It doesn’t matter. It is a glorious day, we have some fog as we pass along the river, but the day is beautiful. Blue skies and whales! AdventureMan snoozes after breakfast, building up energy, and I leave him alone so he can recuperate.

 

 

 

We have to go very slowly; Canadian Maritime law is humane, and protects the migrating whales.

 

 

Around noon, we dock in Saguenay:

This boat is not us, it is one of the French Soleal line. Only one boat can dock, so this time they have to use the tenders.

 

 

AdventureMan and I exit the boat to walk through Saguenay and find a bite of non-ship food to eat. Viking Ocean cruises has a lot of nice food, and most of it is lightly seasoned so as not to offend anyone. They do a great job of taking care of a lot of people, but sometimes there are slips. We ate mussels one night, and they were delicious – but served tepid! Almost cool!

We are blown away by the Saguenay welcome. We have been told these are all volunteers, they dress in old time costumes and greet the arriving passengers with welcomes, photos, flags, free little blueberry juices, free blueberry pie, a small musical group playing local music – oh, it is a total party on the dock! Many of them don’t speak English, but they understand my French and I feel terrific. They understand my French! I’ve lost so much because I so rarely get an opportunity to use it, but the fluency comes back and I feel exhilarated.

Here is the man handing out Saguenay flags to all arrivals. AdventureMan tells me that the green signifies forestry and wildlife, the yellow is for agriculture which is a mainstay of their economy and he can’t remember what the silver stands for; you would think it is white, but it is really silver and as it is the cross, he believes it has to do with faith.

These people are so much fun, and are having such a great time. So are we!

 

They get one of the passengers to try the saw – it’s harder than it looks!

This man was flipping his son all around, and they were both really having fun with this local greeting party.

Yes! Yes! a “bluet” is a blueberry! I have a new word in my French vocabulary!

They are making natural maple sugar candy here, on a bed of ice, and giving it out. I get to show our grandson this; we were reading that American children’s classic, “Little House on the Prairie” and the author, Laura Ingalls Wilder described perfectly how this is done.

You know what I love about this? This is pure generosity of spirit. There really isn’t that much going on in Saguenay that would make it a draw, but these good people with their slices of blueberry pie, their costumes, their music, and their warm welcome, have created something worth traveling to see. They have their heritage. They are proud of it, and they are happy to share it with visitors. It’s just all win-win.

I love the juxtaposition here, the First Nation representatives against the background of the Viking invaders 😉

 

We asked one of the guides if they could recommend a good restaurant and they recommended one I had seen on TripAdvisor, just a short walk down the bicycle path. And Big Bravo for AdventureMan, the person I asked didn’t speak English, and we were trying to find the bicycle path and AdventureMan remembered “piste” from when we lived in Tunisia, and as soon as he said it, the person’s face lit up and he pointed us in the right direction.

 

It’s a perfect day. I am in short sleeves; temperatures are in the 70’s F. and the local young folk are in short shorts, halter tops and summer dresses. It is probably a wonderful late summer day to them. We dine outside at La Grange aux Hiboux.


 

 

It reminds us of places we used to eat lunch when we would get up early early on cold mornings to go to the big flea market in Metz.

We took the long way back to the ship, and passed this church.

I have to tell you something funny. Or at least it strikes me funny; I guess there are times when I am still silly and seven years old in my heart. The bay that Saguenay is situated along is called the Bay of Ha! Ha! There is a hop-on hop-off bus for cruise passengers, called, the Ho Ho. The HoHo is right next to the Bay of Ha! Ha!

Well, I think it is funny.

What I love, too, about Viking is their willingness to accommodate religious observances. (Did I already say this?) Tonight they are having a special dinner for those celebrating Rosh Hoshhana. How cool is that?

September 21, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Character, Civility, Community, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Geography / Maps, Heritage, Humor, Marketing, Restaurant, Travel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“You’ll Never Get Another Credit Card, F@%&ing B!}@h”

As a friend and I were talking today, a call came in on my land line. Very very odd – the call is from me! I answered the call, and a robogirl told me that there was no problem with my credit card, but my company wanted to give me a better rate. Just press 9 to speak with a service person who could help me.

I pressed 9, and got JuJu, very clearly Indian, who started talking about how smart I was to want a better rate. I told him I didn’t want a better rate, I wanted him to take us off his list, that we are on the do not call list. He said he wasn’t a telemarketer, he was calling from our credit card company. “Which company is that?” I asked, because we have a variety, each of which we use for a specific purpose. “Oh, we represent blah blah, and blah blah blah, and blah de blah” he said airily, and I am laughing because we don’t have any of those cards.

“We don’t have any of those cards, please connect me to your supervisor, I want our names taken off your list. We have never given permission for these kinds of phone calls,” I stated.

He started cursing me a blue streak, ending with “I am putting a black mark on your credit report right now! I am blackening your credit! You will never have another credit card, (expletive expletive expletive!!”

At this point, I put him on speaker-phone. My friend listened with me in horror as he cursed and swore and threatened. When I said his special offer didn’t interest me, he started in all over again. By this point, I am laughing, it is so unthinkable, he can’t be from a real marketing service. Finally, he hung up on me, and my friend and I just looked at each other, wide-eyed.

I called one of our banks and told the customer service person what had happened, and he said it’s totally a scam. The guy wanted my credit card information. I’m seriously thinking of getting rid of our land line.

 

May 5, 2016 Posted by | Civility, Crime, Cultural, Customer Service, Financial Issues, Marketing | | Leave a comment

Pantone Chooses TWO Colors-of-the-Year for 2016

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I love Rose Quartz (real rose quartz is lighter than this pink) and I love Serenity. Pantone says they are meant to be worn together. Ugh.

December 3, 2015 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, color, Marketing, Shopping | , , | 1 Comment

Pantone Colors for Spring 2015

See them in fashion, accessories and decorating by going to Pantone.

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December 4, 2014 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, color, Cultural, Marketing, Shopping | 2 Comments

Masala: Pantone Color of the Year 2015

Oh arrgh. To me, this is a great color for a purse, or any accent piece, but for clothing, it’s so brown, so deep, so heavy . . .

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December 4, 2014 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, color, Cultural, Marketing, Shopping | Leave a comment

“Ambulances Chase Him”

Most local made ads are purely awful, or, at best, amusing because they are so awful – one time. Painful after that. This ad cracks me up every time. Imagine, a personal injury lawyer who has a sense of humor about himself:

 

April 14, 2014 Posted by | Marketing | , , | 2 Comments

Six Foods Healthy Eaters Won’t Touch

I love this article from AOL Everyday Health News because they make some great suggestions – like if you really love salted nuts, mix them half and half with unsalted nuts to cut the amount of sodium you take in. We do this with breakfast cereal; we mix Bare Naked Nuts and Fruits with Quaker Old Fashioned Oats; it still has enough sweetness, and we add a little cinnamon and sunflower seeds to pump it up.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Most of us are familiar with the typical no-no foods like sugared soda or anything deep-fried, but have you ever wondered what the experts steer clear of? Everyday Health’s nutrition mavens dish on the foods they won’t eat, and share tips for making healthier swaps.

1. Hot dogs, bacon, and sausages. Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RDN, CDN, Everyday Health columnist and author of Read it Before You Eat It, said she would never eat these processed meats, and for good reason: A diet high in processed meats like bacon and sausage can increase your risk of dying from cancer or cardiovascular disease, according to recent research.

Processed meats, like pepperoni, hot dogs, sausage, bacon, and deli meats, are best left for special or rare occasions like a trip to the ballpark or a family event. If beef or pork hot dogs and sausages are staples in your diet, Taub-Dix suggests chicken dogs or sausages may be healthier bets. But beware the health halo of a food like chicken sausage, she said. Just because food items have some healthy qualities — like baked chips or 100-calorie snack packs — doesn’t mean they’re really good for you.

As with any processed food, watch out for sodium content. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day — or 1,500 mg if you’re age 51 or older, or if you are African American, or if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.

Love bacon but hate the health repercussions? Use seasonings and spices like paprika and chipotle to add that smoky flavor to your cooking, suggested Taub-Dix.

2. Sugary coffee creations. “Those fancy blended drinks at coffee shops can have upwards of 400 calories and 15 teaspoons of sugar…yikes!” said Johannah Sakimura, MS, the writer behind the Everyday Health column, Nutrition Sleuth.

Unlike naturally-occurring sugars like those found in fruits (fructose), added sugars — syrups or sugars added to food items during preparation — can be harmful to your health. In fact, the added sugar Americans consume on a daily basis can more than double the risk of death from heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends no more than six teaspoons or 100 calories a day of added sugar for women, and no more than nine teaspoons or 150 calories a day for men.

If you can’t live without your favorite sweet coffee drink, Sakimura recommends indulging less often. “If you want to enjoy one occasionally as a dessert, that’s totally fine…but they definitely shouldn’t be a daily or even weekly order,” she said.

3. Stick margarines. Both Sakimura and Taub-Dix said they avoid trans-fat foods, which can raise your heart disease risk by boosting levels of bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein — LDL) and lowering levels of good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein — HDL).

Sakimura avoids stick margarines because most are still made with partially hydrogenated oils, meaning they’re loaded with trans fat. The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of trans fats you eat to less than one percent of your daily total calories. So, if you’re eating 2,000 calories a day, that’s just 20 calories. And since small amounts of trans fats occur naturally in some animal products, like meat and dairy, you’re probably meeting the 20-calorie threshold without reaching for factory-produced trans fats like those found in some margarines.

“When I occasionally make a baked good that requires solid fat, such as certain cookie or cake recipes, I always use butter. Butter does contain a large amount of saturated fat, but trans fats are far worse for your health,” she said.

4. Processed pastries. Everyday Health’s nutrition expert Maureen Namkoong, MS, RD, said she never eats processed pastries like Pop-Tarts, Twinkies, Devil Dogs, HoHos, or Hostess Cupcakes.

“The shelf life makes me nervous, too many preservatives, too many chemicals, too little taste,” said Namkoong. She prefers “real” desserts instead of these sugary snacks.

While the jury is out on the long-term effects and risks of preservatives in shelf-stable foods, a good rule of thumb is to eat fewer packaged, processed foods and more whole, fresh foods like fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and oils, and lean meats and fish.

Pay attention to frequency and quantity when you indulge in an unhealthy food.

5. Canned frosting. This is another trans fat offender that Sakimura avoids. When she wants to enjoy a nicely-iced dessert, she makes the icing from scratch.

“Hopefully, the proposed FDA ban on artificial trans fat will be finalized soon and we won’t have to worry about trans fat-laden products any longer,” Sakimura added.

Always read the product label for trans fat info. Why? Because right now, the FDA allows companies to round trans fat down to zero grams if the product contains less than 0.5 grams per serving.

“You have to turn it over and take a look at the label for hydrogenated fat or partially hydrogenated fat – that means trans fat,” Taub-Dix noted. There are bound to be similar products that aren’t loaded with trans fats, so opt for those instead, she suggested.

6. Sugar-packed cereals. Namkoong said she never eats sugary cereals because they’re not filling enough and have too little fiber. “The way I see it, the calories and sugar budget are better spent on a yummy dessert that I’ll enjoy more,” Namkoong said.

Sugary cereals your go-to guilty snack? Lower your sugar intake with this tip: “If you really like sugary cereals, and you know that they aren’t good for you, then mix them in a bowl with a cereal that is very low in sugar,” Taub-Dix recommended, so at least you’re getting less sugar per serving.

How to Change Your Taste for ‘Bad’ Foods
A registered dietitian or nutritionist can create a diet geared to your specific needs, but if that’s not an option then tailor your taste on your own by diluting your favorite foods, said Taub-Dix.

How do you dilute your foods? Basically, as noted above with sugary cereals, mix half of the bad stuff with half of the good stuff.

“If you have high blood pressure, and you know salted nuts aren’t great for you, take a handful of salted nuts and mix in unsalted nuts, too,” recommended Taub-Dix.

By diluting unhealthy snacks, you’re tailoring your tastes and gradually getting used to food that’s healthier. Another tip from our experts: Pay attention to frequency and quantity when you indulge in an unhealthy food.

“It’s not just about the food. It’s about how often you’re having it and how much of it you’re having,” said Taub-Dix.

April 2, 2014 Posted by | Food, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Marketing, Shopping | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment